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Premier League preview: Six talking points ahead of the weekend’s action

Each week we preview the Premier League’s weekend action and discuss some of the division’s major talking points.

The weekend’s fixtures see both Tottenham and Arsenal continue their chase for Champions League football, whilst time is running out for the likes of Watford and Burnley to find the points needed to escape the bottom three.

Ahead of a reduced weekend schedule due to the FA Cup semi-finals, we look at six Premier League talking points.

Tottenham trio can continue Champions League chase

Tottenham are in fine fettle at present with the club’s free-scoring front three having moved the North Londoners into the Premier League’s top four.

It’s now six wins from seven games for Antonio Conte’s side, who have scored 25 goals across that period with Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and Dejan Kulusevski all in superb form.

Son, in particular, has excelled in front of goal and it’s now 17 goals for the season for the South Korean, who has closed the gap to Mohamed Salah in the race for the Golden Boot to just three goals.

Spurs meet Brighton in the lunchtime kick-off this weekend, the side that did their top four hopes a huge favour after beating Arsenal last weekend.

Conte will be wary of the Seagulls’ threat but with Spurs in possession of one of Europe’s most prolific frontlines at present, he will be confident of three points. A win for Spurs will move them six points clear of Arsenal and up the pressure on their North London rivals.

United squad fighting for their futures

Manchester United will keep pushing for a top-four finish, but with Champions League qualification looking more unlikely with each result and no major silverware to play for the focus for this squad should be focused on impressing the incoming boss.

Erik ten Hag looks set to be named as the next permanent manager at Old Trafford and the Dutchman will no doubt have a close eye on the Red Devils’ run-in, as he assesses the squad he is expected to inherit next season.

Several leading names including Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have endured difficult campaigns and each will need to convince Ten Hag that they can be a part of his future plans.

There will no doubt be an overhaul – one that has been much needed in recent seasons – at Old Trafford this summer and there are several members of the squad with huge question marks around them.

A home clash with the Premier League’s bottom side in Norwich is a good chance to right some wrongs and send a statement to the incoming manager.

Struggling Saints already on the beach?

Ralph Hasenhuttl will be tearing his hair out at Southampton’s end of season slump, with another concerning run of form having seen a promising season fade.

Last season, a run of one win from 14 games saw the Saints go into freefall, dropping from a place in the Premier League’s top three in December to the lower regions of mid-table mediocrity.

Just five games ago Southampton were ninth and heading towards a top-half finish, a standing that would have represented an impressive campaign for Hasenhuttl and his side.

They’ve failed to win since and last weekend’s 6-0 home defeat to Chelsea was a reminder of their capability to implode on occasion.

Top four chasing Arsenal will fancy their chances this weekend against a team struggling for form amid little to play for.

Bees buzzing ahead of meeting with Hornets

Four wins from five has lifted the relegation clouds away from Brentford, with consecutive wins over Chelsea and West Ham the headline results in an impressive first season in the Premier League.

Thomas Frank’s side will be confident of another three points as the Bees meet the Hornets this weekend, with Watford all but doomed following last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at home to Leeds.

Watford have endured a terrible record at Vicarage Road this season and have lost their last nine home games in succession, ahead of a must-win clash with a Brentford side full of confidence.

Ivan Toney will hope to continue his push for a maiden England call-up, the Brentford forward the joint-leading English scorer in the Premier League this season and on a run of eight goals from his last eight Premier League appearances.

Maddison deserves England chance

James Maddison has become a forgotten figure when it comes to England’s creative talents, with the 25-year-old overlooked despite those at Leicester banging the drum for his inclusion.

Competition for a place in Gareth Southgate’s plans is fierce, but Maddison can hardly be doing more as he pushes for another chance with the Three Lions.

Maddison scored his 14th goal of the season as Leicester beat PSV to reach the Europa Conference League semi-finals on Thursday, with only Tammy Arbaham (23) and Harry Kane (22) having scored more goals among Englishmen across all competitions.

It’s now 21 goal involvements in his last 26 appearances for Maddison, who leads his Leicester teammates for shot-creating actions, shots, chances created, successful take-ons, goals and assists in 2021/22.

If Southgate is true to his word in rewarding players based on form, Maddison deserves a chance to add to his sole England cap during the summer fixtures.

Hammers need to find Premier League focus

West Ham are celebrating after reaching a first European semi-final for 46 years on Thursday, a brilliant performance seeing David Moyes’ side beat Lyon 3-0 to reach the last four.

It’s a huge achievement for the Hammers and a demonstration of their progress under Moyes, whose side will face Eintracht Frankfurt – conquerors of Barcelona in the quarter-finals – for a place in the final.

It will be impossible to ignore the talk of potential European success at the London Stadium, but with two big Premier League fixtures to come before Frankfurt the focus must be on their league form.

West Ham’s juggling of commitments has seen their top four challenge fade and the Hammers must ensure they do not fall out of the European places entirely across the run-in.

Read – Noughties Nines: The greatest assassin, Ruud van Nistelrooy

Read Also – Five of the best Champions League assists

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